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Abortion Takes Center Stage In Healthcare Reform Debate

November 16, 2009 by  

Abortion takes center stage in healthcare reform debateThe House of Representatives passed its version of the healthcare reform bill in early November, and as the battle moves to the Senate some legislators have threatened to withdraw support if the language of the abortion amendment remains unchanged.

Liberal Democrats are unhappy about the so-called Stupak-Pitt amendment that, according to, prohibits coverage of abortion in the public option and bars anyone receiving a federal subsidy from purchasing a health insurance plan that includes abortion. In addition, it prevents private insurers from offering plans through the exchange that include abortion coverage to both subsidized and unsubsidized individuals.

Media reports suggest that among the opponents are Democratic Representatives Diana DeGette of Colorado and Louise Slaughter of New York, who wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama saying that they would withdraw support of the final version of the bill if the amendment stays.

In the Senate, Claire McCaskill of Missouri tweeted that while she did not think the current law banning federal dollars for abortions should be changed, an amendment to that effect would "go too far," especially given its restrictions on private insurers.

The White House also appears to be unhappy with the amendment, as President Obama told ABC News that "this is a healthcare bill, not an abortion bill," and added he wanted to ensure "we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices."

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